Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is based on an understanding of the way qi flows through the meridians, and uses four systems to improve that flow: acupuncture, bodywork or tuina, energy exercises or Qi Gong, and herbalism. Shiatsu is a Japanese form of bodywork based on TCM and tuina.
Qi flows through the body mainly along twelve meridians. Most meridians take their name from the body organ through which they pass. Problems in the meridians most often bear no relation to the corresponding organ. A problem in the eye may correspond to weakness in the Liver meridian and may improve through work with the Liver meridian, but the liver organ may be perfectly sound while this is going on. Similarly, a backache may correspond to a Kidney meridian imbalance in a person whose kidneys function extremely well.
You have probably heard of Yin and Yang. The Chinese character for Yin represents the shady side of the mountain, and that for Yang the sunny side. Yin corresponds to receptivity, nurturing, centering, storing, grounding, the west, dark, shade, cold, water, and the Lung, Kidney, Heart, Spleen, Liver, and Heart Protector meridians. Yang corresponds to activity, the east, protecting, consuming, expanding, light, brightness, heat, fire, and the Large Intestine, Bladder, Small Intestine, Stomach, Gall Bladder, and Triple Heater meridians.
You may have heard that women are Yin and men Yang. Macrobiotics teaches that women are Yang and men are Yin. One ancient Chinese medical text explains that women are Yang within Yin, and men are Yin within Yang. In Chinese philosophy as well as Traditional Chinese Medicine, one always looks for the Yin within the Yang and the Yang within the Yin, and then goes deeper and looks for the Yang within the Yin within the Yang within the Yin, ad infinitum. Ultimately, what we want is balance between Yin and Yang in each organ and in ourselves.
We improve this balance by stimulating acupoints through touch, body position, movement, or intention. Qi Gong encompasses all of this. We may also use herbs and foods to help in this.
One of the most important tenets of TCM is that the “Yi” moves the Qi, and the Qi moves the Blood. “Yi” means thought. In other words, your intention, thought, or conscious direction can move the Qi, and the Qi, in turn, can create physical change.
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